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Question of the month: When do you know your story is ready?

I’ve been asking myself a lot this past month. Writing stories for various competitions in different genres and lengths certainly caused a lot of insecurity.

When are they ready?

Freaking out and locking them up in a drawer won’t change anything. (I tried.) Trying to forget them by staring into Damon’s eyes as I catch up on season seven of The Vampire Diaries didn’t help either. (Though I am totally confused about the plot and I’m not even half-way through the season…)

Putting all the distractions aside, I took the story with the closest deadline and reread it. I made notes. I rewrote it a little. And I sent it in. I did the same with the next one.

Then I froze.

Life got in the way with health-scares (Emmett had a suspicious mole – thankfully it’s nothing to worry about), the day job totally sucking the life out of me, and relationship troubles (some writers can be a little blunt and insensitive when their fictional friends are in danger). And did I mention already that I’m easily distracted?

*shrugs*

Even working on my hobbies didn’t calm me.

One story needed to be really, really scary. The scariest books I’ve ever read were by RL Stine (I was sure the car was alive for quite a while…). I think the scariest thing I’ve ever watched was the first episode of Supernatural. I had nightmares for weeks and refused to go outside after dark… Now how am I to write something to rival that?

I couldn’t.

And I shouldn’t.

I don’t need to mimic anyone else. My writing doesn’t have to compare to that of a team of writers putting all of their fears into one story. I only need to write what scares me, what comes out of the dark corners of my mind.

Four days. Four days and the short story was written, rewritten, edited and still stuck on my computer. I’m not sure it’s ready yet. Still, I scared myself. In a good way.

A shorter piece I wrote was well-received yesterday, which gives me hope that I’m not completely lost in this horror genre.

And though the longer pieces still need work (they’re due at the end of the month), they’re getting there. I even finished a third of my grammar skills course (I know I’m using a lot of brackets in this piece, but at least I’m not misusing semi-colons).

So when is a story ready?

You’ll know it. You would’ve done everything you know to do to get it ready. You’ll read it, and just know. Like magic.

At least that’s how it is for me. How do you know when your story is ready? Do you sometimes feel that your words lack life? How do you get over your insecurities as a writer?

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